We don’t have an identity. At all. We constantly try to create one, or recreate one from week to week, and the teams that are establishing theirs are starting to own us even if overall our gameplan is better. What I mean by that is what those teams do is not foreign to them from week to week, so it’s easier and executed better. Minnesota now has 3 straight wins against Frost, a team that we beat 53-28 in year 1 of this regime while we still had “terrible Riley culture”. But why is Minnesota starting to run away from us while we constantly out-recruit them? Fleck said it, but in case you missed it:
He knows we have the better players out of high school, but he’s 3-1 against us. He had to make a tough decision in his second year after Frost lit him up and he fired one of his coaches. The rest is behind him when it comes to playing Nebraska.
I have said for years that I freaking hate that guy, but he just may be a really good coach. I thought he was a carnival barker just spewing nonsense. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that having an identity, something you can hang your hat on, and a motto or image is pretty important. And no matter how terrible that image or mantra is from the outside looking in, if you get people to believe in what you’re selling you’ll probably make some noise. It reminds me of China a bit, I hate nearly everything that country stands for, but every single person is pulling in the same direction and they are ascending in multiple categories on a global scale. Is that what Fleck is doing up in Minnesota? Because I have no problem thinking he’s a communist.
Got off track there, but you get what i’m saying. Even if what you are promoting sucks, if you get the players to love it, you end up with wins against teams you probably shouldn’t have. So let’s get back to what was drawing me to the conclusion of us just grasping at straws to have an identity. Read these two tweets:
Wow, that’s a pretty cool motto, I liked that. But all of a sudden I started hearing our head coach using it…
Frost probably has, but i’ve never heard him say that before. In fact a media member said he counted that Frost said the word 7 times. To me it sounds like we heard that’s what someone did to us and now we are trying to insert it into our motivational speeches as well. I hate that. Does what our motto was not apply for what just happened in Minneapolis? It’s ok to find something that may work better, but it seems like we’ve been doing that for years. It’s even happening off the field with things like this now. But let’s go even deeper than that…
Why did we look so much different against Michigan, Michigan State, and Oklahoma compared to Illinois and others? Why later into the season did our offense look better? You had people pointing to the OL shakeup and that was the answer. The reality is, this offseason Frost and staff worked with Coastal Carolina and Nebraska-Kearney to get their offensive philosophy installed. Husker fans were overjoyed, you heard things like “it’s the new triple option” and just how close we were.
The reality of the situation was it was a new wrinkle we unveiled midseason and now that teams have seen it, they’re ready. But even worse, the prior 3 seasons of growth, development, and identity (if there was any) was gone and we are now starting over on offense. Again. We couldn’t get anything going, our defense had their struggles, and it ended in a loss this past Saturday. My how far we’ve gone from “if we need to hire other coaches to help us tackle, we are in the wrong business” to soliciting help from a D2 team and a Go5 team offensively. I’m fine with help, I actually appreciate the growth from our staff there. I just think we are all over the map and it confuses our players.
Last point on that to really drive the nail into the coffin. I mean, let’s go back to how Wandale Robinson was exactly what Frost and his offense needed. He was the whale and this staff did an unreal job reeling him in.
He then transfers out and we get some bigger wide receivers in, and we hear “having bigger guys out there allows us to be more who we want to be” and other comments from our coaches like that. It just doesn’t make sense. Wandale Robinson was the #1 all-purpose back in the country and a freshman All-American. Having to change things again is just hurting our development. That’s the big issue.
Going back to communist Fleck, sticking with something and staying the course works better than continual change. And that’s all we’ve had.
What did Minnesota do offensively?
It wasn’t anything fancy. Quite honestly Minnesota built the lead knowing exactly who they were. I actually could sit there and tell you exactly what was going to happen based on how we were lined up. The Gophers OC didn’t disguise anything, they just ran RPOs to put our OLBs and safeties in conflict to build a 21-9 lead in the first half. Once you get a double digit lead, the 2 turnovers that Tanner Morgan had didn’t even matter.
I’m not sure if this is the first one they run, but they did a lot out of this formation that strained us (those of you who get the reference, 1,000 points!) They are in a trips formation and Tanner Morgan is reading our OLB Caleb Tannor. The Gophers knew that since we were in trips, our LB would be out over one of the WRs, and our ILB would be shifted over to help with #3 who is a TE in this play. Once Morgan sees Tannor flying in to help on run since he sets the edge and is responsible for a “gap”, he just pulls and throws to the stop route.
So Tannor flies in, the WR runs a stop route. Easy throw and catch. Gotta stop that, so Nebraska next time they are in this formation tries something different. This time it is up top and we have Domann over the slot WR. Basically right before the snap you see Domann bail away, and if you remember the play before our OLB is Morgans read who came flying up to stop the run, so he simply hands the ball off because without Domann in run support there is a gap unaccounted for.
Minnesota runs all different variations, and here is another. Again, the trips formation so Minnesota’s offensive coordinator calls the RPO. Morgan sees Tannor flying in to help, but this time there is a bubble screen called with it. The WR blocks the corner and the receiver is now one on one with our safety trying to make the play from 10 yards deep.
And here’s some out of a “doubles” formation (2 WR to both sides of the line). Minnesota ran the plays before out of trips, now they just do base plays out of “doubles” or “deuce”. Minnesota sees that we line up with 2 high safeties, so they just run the ball.
Chinander knows you can’t just let teams get 3 yards a carry because that’s first down, so we have to change it up a bit and keep them guessing. I let the video run a bit longer on this one so you can see that the Minnesota OC just takes a look at how we are covering the formation then calls the play he feels gives them the best chance. Here you can see up top our corner is in press coverage and even one of our safeties is in press coverage on the slot WR since the play before even though Garrett Nelson gives a great effort, we still got gashed a little bit. That only leaves one guy deep, so you see Tanner Morgan look to the sideline, call for the wheel route for the WR out of the slot and throw a 50/50 deep ball.
Minnesota isn’t fancy, they just know who they are. Conversely, i’m not sure if Nebraska does.
Minnesota defensively vs Nebraska
I really don’t know what to say here. It’s tough for me to say “we should do this differently” when I watch us run plays and not block playside LBs and down linemen.
The reality from the Minnesota game
We’ve heard our coaches, captains, and players say it. But we just weren’t ready for whatever reason. When that happens, the team you play doesn’t have to be fancy. And Minnesota wasn’t. They ran the ball just enough, and Morgan made the easy throws. I have said before when you have to coach motivation you are in trouble, and that’s what we had this past Saturday.
You really had this as a must win. You couldn’t lose to Minnesota and still make a bowl game in my opinion. Further, you didn’t want to go into a bye week and be sitting on a loss. I know I heard someone say one of our radio announcers was blaming the 8 games in a row from the B1G and “what did you expect”, but the reality is they kind of helped us with a week 0 game and two byes. We just chose to move Fordham to one of those so that we could get wins before the Oklahoma game. We were actually already supposed to have a bye under our belt. With us changing our own schedule earlier this year, that made it so we have 2 byes in the back half of our season.
We’ve gotta quit with thinking the conference has it out for us. I promise you everyone in the league office knows the B1G is a better conference if Nebraska is Nebraska.
Rest of the season
This is going to be so tough. You play Purdue who just beat Iowa, then you have Ohio State, Wisconsin, and the Hawkeyes. You can convince yourself how beatable those teams are, but if you looked in the mirror you would know that Nebraska is the most beatable out of all of those teams. You can’t lose to Purdue, or the losing season trend continues. I just don’t know.
Speaking of trends
If you followed me on the other site, I spent a lot of time saying I don’t believe in one offs or judging after one or even two years. I believe in trends.
2018 B1G West Finish – 6th
2019 B1G West Finish – 6th
2020 B1G West Finish – 5th
2021 B1G West Current – 7th
I wouldn’t want to be Alberts, because there’s a strong possibility we are in the bottom of the division again. I get he’s been here not even a year, but that’s all sorts of bad. And it’s absolutely warranted to move on. Anyone else would have been let go by now.
Since it’s a bye, i’m going to do a couple installments this week. One is going to be a recruiting update, and hot seat talk. The other will be a “what went wrong” segment starting with 2001 Colorado if I can dig up the film.
Go Big Red!